Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Suffering, Research, and Baby Parts

Unless you live under a rock, you have seen the horrifying news and videos about abortion providers selling the organs, limbs and other tissues of pre-born babies to labs for medical research. As believers, we are heartbroken over this news. Psalm 139 tells us that we were knit together in our mothers’ wombs, and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. These tiny babies are being ripped apart as their mothers’ hearts (whether they admit it or not) break in agony over their decision. How our Lord must weep over these things! As we grieve this tragic and horrific development, we can only imagine how grieved our Creator must be.

What is the excuse these individuals give for their egregious behavior? “Research.” Stem cells, fetal tissues, chorionic villi, and whatever other bounty they are after, are all to be used for medical research. Their reasoning goes something like this: If we can improve the lives of those who are already born and suffering with MS, spinal cord injury, ALS, and countless other diseases, and these babies are being aborted anyway, what is the harm in harvesting whatever will help us improve the prognoses of individuals who are already here?

While this argument may sound plausible on first hearing, we as believers know that it is a lie from the pit of Hell. These tiny humans who are being aborted are no less “already here” than the forty-year-old man with ALS. The abortionists and researchers have made one terrible error in their thinking: They have believed a lie about what constitutes life. Here is the truth: Life begins at conception. Body and soul are joined together at that moment, and when you take that life, whether at 6 weeks, 12 weeks, or 24 weeks, you have taken the life of a human being who is already here.

If you suffer from a genetic disorder, spinal cord injury, or any other affliction from which these researchers hope to deliver you through fetal tissue study, you may have thought twice about whether this type of research is ok. As you suffer pain, disability, and the loss of so many things, it is only natural to desire healing and relief. In moments of desperation, you may have rationalized, as the abortionists do, that since this is being done anyway, why not use the tissues to help people? Some have even invoked the Scripture, “What Satan intends for evil, God can use for good,” (Genesis 50:20) to assuage their guilt over giving their assent to these procedures.

But you should know that the research argument is what the abortionist will use to comfort mothers who are agonizing over whether to have the abortion in the first place. They are told that their baby’s tissue may one day save many people from genetic disease, or bring about a cure for spinal cord injuries. For some, this must be the tipping point in their decision.

But, my believing friend, this cannot be our rationale. The abortionists have woven a web of lies, and many have fallen into it. It will never be ok to murder one person for the betterment of another, even many others, even others who are suffering terribly. In the economy of human life, there is no fair trade. A human being is a human being, and until we as a society wake up and embrace this truth, people will be murdered in the name of research. The bodies of the tiniest, most vulnerable members of our society are being carefully torn from their souls so that their liver tissue can be preserved and sold to the highest bidder.

If you suffer from chronic disease or injury, you have a unique opportunity to speak truth to those who ask you, “If research on aborted fetal tissue could heal your disease, would you give your approval?” Your answer must be a resounding, “NO! My life is no more precious than the person whose life was taken for the research that might heal me or ease my pain. The Creator and Sustainer of the universe, who created me and ordained my disease will also comfort and strengthen me to endure it without killing anyone else to make it better.”

My dear, suffering friends, you have an incredible opportunity here. Speak the truth, and speak it loudly. Tell everyone you can that you would never desire a cure that would require the horrors that we are seeing today. Your testimony, as one who suffers from the very affliction they use to defend this practice, could be a powerful tool for change. Volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center, speak out on social media, and pray for these precious babies and their moms. You have suffered, and God has heard your prayers. You have begged Him to redeem your pain, to use it for His glory. Perhaps He has brought you here for such a time as this.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sometimes, We Cry

One of my all-time favorite Bible verses is John 11:35: “Jesus wept.” There are many opinions as to why Jesus wept at Lazarus’ tomb, but that’s not what I want to talk about today. Think with me for a moment just about the fact that Jesus cried. Though He was fully God, He was also fully human, and therefore He had emotions. I would guess that he had the full spectrum of every emotion known to man. He was sometimes angry, sometimes fearful, sometimes sad, and though there is not really a record of it in the Bible, I’m sure He laughed and enjoyed humor, too.

But what really endears me to Him as a human is that he cried. What this tells me is that it’s OK if I cry sometimes, too. God said that Jesus was perfect, and that He was well pleased with Him, and Jesus cried! Crying is not necessarily a sign of not trusting God, or of weak faith. Crying is just the fruit of human emotion, and sometimes we all must cry.

Now, you may be wondering why I’m suddenly advocating crying, when I’ve shared so many blog posts about how to change your thinking so that you don’t end up there! But really, the heart change that I am so determined to help you achieve actually includes crying. If we’re honest, there are times when life is overwhelming. The bottom drops out as the ceiling crashes in, and we are in the middle. No amount of thought change will give you dry eyes when your husband dies suddenly or your adult child reveals a level of sinfulness you could not have imagined. There is no amount of thought training, scripture memory, or counselor training that can or should stop the tears in these moments, 

Months, years or even decades after such tragedies, we may still be grieving, and at times, still crying. There are some things in life that we will never, in these bodies, “get over.” And so, we cry. We cry to release the deep sadness, anger, or fear that persists. We cry in anguish, in frustration, and in our human sense of circumstantial helplessness. But when we cry, we cry to God. We cry to Him for comfort in our grief, strength in our weariness, and perseverance in the face of faith-shaking circumstances. We cry to Him for healing, for salvation, for forgiveness, and for hope. And we thank Him for this gift of tears.

We can train our thinkng and seek heart change for the matters of everyday life, and we can trust God and thank Him for our refining as we grow and change.  But these heart-crushing landmarks in life must be lamented and mourned. There is no way around it.

And so, we cry. And it’s OK. We seek believing sisters to help us as we process our pain, and we feel the comfort of Christ in their arms. No matter who you are, how much biblical knowledge you have, or what role you fulfill in the church, you will sometimes be sad. You will grieve. And you will cry. Embrace it, my friend. Jesus wept.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Choices and Sovereignty

“Really, God? You’re sure I needed this today, on top of everything else?”  Have these words ever come out of your mouth? If not, have they been in your head? They were certainly in mine the other day, as I sat on the pool deck, having fallen hard after my foot slipped on the wet concrete. I am always talking to God, and that is especially true when I am in pain or trial. And I was most certainly in pain at that moment. Rather than seeking comfort from Him though, I was demanding an explanation.

That morning, as I drove to the pool, I had been thanking Him that my leg has been feeling a bit stronger lately, and I’ve been able to do a little more. As I drove, I was singing a praise song along with the radio, and just feeling quite content and happy. I really enjoyed the exercise that day, and felt very grateful that I am still able to do it.

On this particular day, I’d had a really good cardio workout in the 12 foot diving well. I was feeling great, and thought I’d go over to the 50 meter pool and swim a few laps to wrap up my workout. I climbed the ladder and headed over to the other pool. I spotted my pool shoes in my peripheral vision and considered putting them on but then I thought, “Nah, it’s not far. I’ll just be careful.” Famous last words. Down I went, and as soon as I was sure there were no broken bones, the words at the beginning of this post came to my mind.

I’m all about the sovereignty of God, as you know if you’ve read many articles here. If God had not wanted me to fall, I would not have fallen. So, in a sense, my question to God was legitimate, if not posed in the most reverent way. Apparently, He had ordained, for His own reasons, that I should fall at that moment. But can I really blame it all on Him? If I had had my rubber-soled pool shoes on, I probably would not have lost traction and fallen. Whose fault is it that I didn’t have my pool shoes on? Mine.

So, how do we harmonize these two things: God’s sovereignty and our responsibility? Well, in this particular instance, God was sovereign over the properties of water and concrete—water is slippery and concrete is hard. He provided the pool shoes for me, along with the wisdom to know I should put them on. In other words, He provided everything I needed in order to prevent that fall. But He also gave me freedom to assert my own will within His limits. He created me in His image: A creature with will and the ability to choose. Therefore, I exercised that will and chose not to put the shoes on, and I fell.

I’m not saying that God didn’t ordain the fall, for my good and His glory. However, I cannot put all the responsibility for my mishap on Him. I made a choice, and I am responsible for that choice. My point in all this is to remind you that, as we struggle with pain, disability, and other trials, we need to be careful not to adopt a fatalistic attitude about it all.

We do have some responsibility as we manage these difficulties that we face. I could have walked away from my fall thinking, “Well, I guess God intended for me to get hurt today. He probably thought I was just too happy, and doesn’t want me to be so satisfied with life in this world. I’d better stop enjoying the things of the world, or God will get me again.” Though this sounds extreme, it is not too farfetched if we are not careful when we think about God’s sovereignty.

So, what’s the right way to think about that fall? “God loves me, and I am thankful that, in spite of my foolish carelessness, He did not allow any bones to be broken, and there were no serious injuries. I am thankful for this, and for the wisdom He has given me. Next time, I will use that wisdom and put those shoes on!” Even when we choose our will over His wisdom, He still loves us, still protects us, still teaches us. Hallelujah! What a Great Creator! What a Savior!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


“I am really disappointed!” Have you ever spoken those words? Maybe you’ve gotten the news that something you were hoping to get or achieve is now impossible. Or maybe you tried a new and promising treatment for your pain, but it didn’t bring the relief you’d hoped for. Has someone you counted on let you down? These disappointments can sometimes send us reeling emotionally, trying to reset a compass that we thought was right and reliable. Where do we go when we find out that our direction was misinformed? How do we keep going when we feel crushed because things didn’t go the way we’d hoped?

Well, I think the first thing to do is to think about the object of our hope. Did we put our hope in that achievement, material thing, treatment, or person? As believers, we know that our hope is in Christ. He is our refuge, our strong tower, and our only hope for salvation. But we also live in this world, and as humans, we will sometimes hope for things here in our temporary home. The problem comes when we begin to put our hope for happiness in things that are not God. Goals, health, and relationships are all good things to pursue. But if we are crushed when they let us down, it is a sign that we have placed too much hope in them.

Secondly, we have to think about our God. If we really examine the course of our lives, we know that He has never disappointed us. We may have at times been disappointed in Him, but it wasn’t because of anything He did or didn’t do. It was because we expected something of Him that was simply not His will for us. Even if it was a good thing, and would (in our view) be for our good and His glory, there must have been something else that He knew would be for our greater good and His greater glory.

Finally, we have to be sure of God’s love for us. Do we really believe He loves us when we feel crushed by disappointment? Did we lose track of His love for us as we pursued the love of others, or of things, or of goals?  As we deal with disappointment, we need to carefully examine whether we truly believe that He loves us and desires our best good. We need to remember that ALL things work together for good (Romans 8:28) to those who love God (us) and are called according to His purpose (to glorify Him, Isaiah 43:7). We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Because of that love, we can be sure that even though we are surprised and disappointed by our circumstances, He is not.

Our sweet Savior can take our disappointment, mix it with His love, and turn it into something better. As we grow and change to be more like Him, these disappointments will become less crushing, because we will put our hope in nothing and no one but Him. As we grieve our losses, we won’t grieve like those without hope because we know that our real hope is in the eternal, unchanging, always loving God of the universe.

Thursday, July 9, 2015


How's the weather there, friend? It's been stormy and rainy here, practically all summer. With storms come changes in pressure, and that can be a real pain for those of us with joint problems. Each time the pressure changes, the fluid in our joints expands and contracts, causing aches and pains to increase and become more resistant to our usual methods of pain relief. The picture above shows the barometric pressure just a few days ago in my neighborhood. Needless to say, that was a rough day.

But that squiggly pressure line got me thinking about how the changes in our circumstances affect our attitude, our faith, and our walk with Christ. There are a lot of stresses in life that we have grown accustomed to. Aside from pain issues, there's work, home life, friends, extended family, and the pressures of just living in this world. These are things that we're used to, that we've built up a tolerance to. We can handle these pressures, because they are a known quantity, and we've built up some stamina in those areas. 

What happens, though, when the pressure changes? Perhaps pain has increased, or your disease has progressed. Maybe you've discovered that your spouse has been unfaithful, your child is using drugs, or your financial troubles have reached a crisis. Just as the fluid in our joints reacts to changes in pressure, so our hearts react when our regular stresses expand. What do we do when stress increases and threatens to overwhelm our usual coping methods?

A barometer like the one in the picture above is a good sign that a storm is brewing. I’m not a meteorologist, but I do know that when the pressure cycles up and down rapidly, thunder is not far behind. It booms and makes us jump out of our bed!  But, while it may not be pleasant, the storm does not have to take us by surprise. Knowing that the pressure is changing can give us a heads up to prepare.

In the same way, if we are not always preparing our hearts for unexpected stress, we may be caught off guard when it booms with a loud clap in our hearts. But none of our stresses or increases in pressure have ever caught God unaware. In His love toward us, he timed them perfectly, to draw us to himself and to make us more like Him. He knew before the foundation of the world exactly what it would take to draw us to himself, and He knows today the perfect trial, and the perfect amount of pressure needed to keep us there.

Our stresses, pressures and trials will always wax and wane, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Even when our troubles seem to be at their worst, He is always at His best, and always seeking our best. As we watch the squiggly line of our lives, we can be sure of one thing: Change. But we can also be sure that our God will never change. Our coping skills are based in the great Gospel of God’s Grace and Truth. No amount of pressure will ever change that. Hallelujah! What a savior!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Responsibly Dependent

One hallmark of a true believer is that she trusts in God. When we say we believe in God, that belief should play out in our lives, right? So, when we are suffering with pain, or any trial really, our faith should enable us to persevere in serving and glorifying God, even when we don't feel like it. But, as you probably know, this is sometimes not the case. We give in to fear, worry and anxiety. Even though we know we have a God who is trustworthy (2 Timothy 1:12 is just one of many proof texts for this truth), we worry and fret anyway. When we do that, we lose out on the joy and the hope that God promises, and we are unhappy, defeated Christians.

So, what’s going on here? We believe the truths of Scripture regarding God’s sovereignty (Psalm 115:3, Proverbs 16:9; Genesis 50:20, Romans 8:28, just to name a few), yet we pass over these as though they were meaningless, and follow our feelings instead. To further complicate things, the Bible commands us to trust God and not to worry. Verses like Philippians 4:6; Matthew 11:28-30; and Luke 12: 22-31 all contain commands (not suggestions) not to worry, but to trust God instead. A third factor we must consider is that God’s Word tells us that the Spirit will enable us to trust Him. John 14:26 quotes Jesus as saying that the Helper He will send will bring His words to our minds at just the right time, to help us to trust Him and obey His commands.

So, if we are true believers, and we understand and believe that our good and loving God is in control of our circumstances; and we desire to obey His commands; and we have the Holy Spirit helping us, then why do we still give in to fear, anxiety, or depression? What are we missing?

I believe that what’s missing here is a simple act of the will. We have all the help we need to be at peace and free from these sinful emotions. But in the end, we must act. While we cannot fight our flesh in our own strength, we must indeed fight! There is human will involved here, acting together with the knowledge of God and the power of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. It is not enough to know God and believe He is able. We must do something with what we know.  Isaiah 26:3 (NLT) says,

You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

This is the perfect verse to memorize if you are stuck in a repeated pattern of fear, worry, anxiety, depression, or any other burdensome emotion. It combines all of these factors: Trust in God’s sovereignty, desire to obey, and belief that the Spirit is able to help. He will keep you in perfect peace, my friend, but you must keep your mind fixed on Him! The Spirit causes us to trust, but we must be responsibly dependent, acting according to that trust. I’m not telling you to suck it up and be brave, far from it! What I am saying is that overcoming sinful thought patterns does require an effort on the part of the believer. You must discipline your thoughts, bringing them captive to obey Christ, who has told you that He desires to give you rest (Matt. 11:28)

So, the next time you begin to feel worried or sad about your circumstances, actively move your mind to thinking about God. Even physically getting up and moving to another place can help. Go for a drive or a walk, if you’re able. As you’re moving, start reciting the attributes of God to yourself. One method is to think of an attribute for each letter of the alphabet, and go from A to Z. You’ll be surprised how your mind, and in turn your emotions, will change. God is faithful, and as you commit to disciplining you thoughts in this way, you will begin to enjoy the peace you desire.